There were guitar stars before him, but when James Burton strapped on a Telecaster and introduced the world to chicken pickin’, the concept of the guitar hero was born.
His first success came with Dale Hawkins on the 1957 hit Suzie Q. After that, Burton gained considerable acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic for his six-year-stint in Ricky Nelson’s band. (Check out this 1965 clip from Shindig, in which Burton’s massive stature in the UK is mentioned.)
Blessed with supreme taste and skill, Burton, perhaps more than any other guitarist (his resume boasts names such Elvis Presley, John Denver, The Monkees, Joni Mitchell, Merle Haggard, Elvis Costello, amongst many more), is that rare breed of sideman whose contributions aren't mere ornaments.
Throughout his career, Burton has relied on Telecasters, two in particular: a 1953 Candy Apple Red model, and a 1969 ‘Pink Paisley’. Both guitars inspired Fender signature models.